The Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of the abortion drug RU-486 has ignited concerns about the influence the next president will have in determining the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion.
Some pro-choice supporters fear the ruling might be overturned if Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush wins the November election and appoints anti-abortion justices to replace outgoing justices.
It is possible that several justices will retire in the next four years, leaving the president to name replacements.
Well-known feminist Gloria Steinem discussed the importance of the controversial abortion pill and the next president's potential effect on women's rights during a conference call with student journalists Monday.
Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore sponsored the conference call.
Steinem, a Gore supporter, has pushed a pro-choice abortion stance since the 1970s.
She said RU-486's approval illustrates progress in the struggle for reproductive freedom using scientific methods.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C., who also participated in the call, said she met with Steinem, civil rights activists and students to raise awareness that the Supreme Court's future depends on the Nov. 7 election.
"Most people think about bread-and-butter issues," Norton said.
"They don't think about the impact their votes could have on Supreme Court justice appointments."
In a statement, released Thursday, Bush criticized the FDA's decision to allow the new pill.
"I fear that making this abortion pill widespread will make abortions more and more common," he stated.
Steinem said Bush would likely appoint justices opposed to abortion, setting back the women's movement. Gore supports Roe v. Wade.
But Bush spokesman Bob Hopkins said Bush wouldn't have a singular agenda when naming justices.
"Unlike Al Gore, Gov. Bush has said that there would not be a single litmus test for appointing Supreme Court judges."
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